Coming off the Rumor that the Steam Winter Sale will start on the 18th, Valve has posted on the Steam Store Page a new way for you to earn games: through an auction system. Valve has always been willing to experiment with their sales and their economy, and now users will be able to acquire a new currency in gems to bid on games that will be available starting on Monday, December 15th at 7:45 AM PST, and will run every 45 minutes until the Christmas sale starts.
The auction is to have nearly 200,000 games to bid on, although it is unclear what games or items will be available at this time. Users can acquire gems by going into their steam inventory and selling their community items. These items include the trading cards that are earned from games, as well as the emoticons and wallpapers earned by making sets of the trading cards. At first glance, the amount of gems that an item gives you does not seem to be connected to the amount that the item goes on the community market, although that’s at first glance. This is most certainly another case of Valve testing their own economy system, as they have previously hired an economist to their staff to study the effects of virtual currency and virtual economies. A whole new currency means a whole new way to “game” the system.
It will be interesting to see how this changes the economy within the Steam Community, as people commonly sell items on the marketplace, and attempt to earn precious dollars and cents to afford a new game. With this introduction, that trading community may be thrown into an interesting situation. It is uncertain how the auction system will work, whether it’ll be consistent with auction systems such as eBay, or be something completely different. The post seems to imply that the auction time is 45 minutes long, but that is uncertain as a set of auctions could start every 45 minutes. More will become clear, including what will be available to bid on, as we get closer to December 15th.